During the mid-morning to afternoon, the team geared up in knee-high boots and long sleeve gloves for the dirty trenches of the rice fields at Khaodee. It was time to get down and dirty! This was a truly once in a lifetime experience for me. It was exciting to see how our rice grains are grown and to experience the hard laborious work that goes into planting these rice plants. At first sight, I was shocked by the number of different insects there were – red beetles, baby crabs, snakes, spiders, centipedes, dragonflies, and other bugs I could not identify! We separated into two different groups – one group helped with the cutting and clearing of the tall plant leaves and the other group helped get rid of the grass and pave room for the rice plants to grow. The work was a grueling task as we were pouring sweat in the scorching heat. A few of us got stuck in the mud. A couple others fell into the slippery mudslide. Some had a difficult time using the machetes to cut down the big weed stalks. Watching the Khaodee kids at work, I was shocked by how well they handled the fields. As the team squirmed at the sight of bugs and were meticulously cautious of falling into the mud, the Khaodee kids were not afraid of getting their hands and feet dirty! I was definitely inspired and motivated to be less afraid and get over my fear of creepy slimy bugs!
After a couple of hours spent in the fields, the team took a quick break and swam in the “chocolate” river nearby. Ah, did the water feel good! (Better not to ask where the water came from!)
Afterwards, the team washed up and prepared for lunch. Feeling worn out from the tiring morning, we spent most of our afternoon in downtime, resting, and cleaning up. We also treated ourselves to some yummy ice cream in Chiang Rai! It was delicious! Aroi mak!
When we headed back to Khaodee, the kids had arrived back from school and were doing their afternoon chores. As the sunset came, we spent our evening with the kids during dinnertime and homework time, getting to know them better.
The team then connected with the children through another night of evening games. The theme of the evening was team unity. The first game was human knots. The kids were divided into groups of 8-10 and each group’s task was to untangle themselves back into their original circle. The second game was called triangle tag. In groups of four, three kids formed a circle with a designated person as the “target” and the fourth person outside of the circle was “it.” The fourth person’s objective was to tag the targeted person while the three kids tried to protect him/her from tagging the targeted person. For the last game, the kids competed in a ro cham bo tournament, where the loser of the match links arms with the winner and continues to compete with other winners until they form one single line. The message of these games could be summed up in Psalm 133:1 – “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” The goal was for the children to understand how team unity and team work allows us to accomplish so much more than when we are divided – “we are greater than the sum of our parts.” The kids had a great time as we worked together throughout the different activities, which engaged them and allowed them to see each other as teammates, working together as brothers and sisters the way God intends us to.